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Lewy Body Disease Specialist

Shankle Clinic

Neurology Specialists located in Newport Beach, CA

Lewy body disease causes a wide range of symptoms, such as memory loss, confusion, muscle stiffness, and behavioral changes, that are similar to the symptoms found in other neurological disorders. William Shankle, MS, MD, FACP, and the team at Shankle Clinic in Newport Beach, California, have the expertise to evaluate your symptoms, diagnose the problem, and develop treatment designed to support your individual needs. At the first sign of Lewy body disease, call the office or schedule an appointment online.

Lewy Body Disease Q & A

What is Lewy body disease?

Lewy body disease is an umbrella term for two conditions: Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s dementia. Both types of dementia occur when Lewy bodies abnormally accumulate, forming clumps inside neurons.

Lewy bodies consist of a protein called alpha-synuclein. When the proteins clump together, they damage the nerve, diminishing neurotransmitters and eventually killing the nerve. Both types of Lewy body disease progressively worsen over time and can’t be cured.

What should I know about Lewy body dementia?

Lewy body dementia accounts for 5-10% of all cases of dementia. As Lewy bodies accumulate, they can affect different areas of your brain responsible for regulating:

  • Thoughts, language, and information processing
  • Emotions and behavior
  • New memory formation
  • Movement
  • Sleep
  • Sense of smell

Lewy body dementia typically develops around the age of 50. Many patients with Alzheimer’s disease also develop a buildup of Lewy bodies.

What should I know about Parkinson’s dementia?

Parkinson’s disease begins when nerves in your brain that release dopamine start to degenerate. As the affected nerves die and dopamine levels decline, you lose control of your muscles and develop motor symptoms.

About 50-80% of patients with Parkinson’s disease also develop a buildup of Lewy bodies in their brains, leading to Parkinson’s dementia. Parkinson’s dementia has the same symptoms as Lewy body dementia.

What are the symptoms of Lewy body disease?

Lewy body disease causes dementia symptoms such as:

  • Changes in memory, concentration, and problem-solving
  • Trouble interpreting visual information
  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Confusion about time and place
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Behavioral changes (agitation, irritability)

The type of symptoms that develop and their severity can vary for each person.

What motor symptoms develop due to Lewy body disease?

Patients who are diagnosed with Lewy body dementia may also develop motor symptoms. By comparison, patients initially diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease always have motor symptoms, and they may develop dementia. 

Motor symptoms include:

  • Muscle rigidity
  • Tremor (usually when resting)
  • Slow movement
  • Loss of balance
  • Shuffling walk
  • Stooped posture
  • Limited facial expression
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Weak voice

You may also lose coordination and frequently fall.

How do neurologists treat Lewy body disease?

Treatment for Lewy body disease is multimodal to relieve the wide variety of potential symptoms. The team at Shankle Clinic may prescribe medications that reduce symptoms, physical therapy to improve balance and strengthen muscles, and speech therapy if speaking is affected.

Each patient’s treatment is customized to meet their needs and to address their changing symptoms. If you develop symptoms of Lewy body disease, or a loved one does, call Shankle Clinic or book an appointment online.